I love the idea of baby books … but I hate scrapbooking. Luckily, I found a perfect alternative to preserve those memories – Shutterfly Photobooks!
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I came really close to creating a scrapbook once. After I spent a semester studying abroad in Spain, I was bound and determined to create a scrapbook of my experiences. I spent a small fortune on materials at Hobby Lobby, I checked out scrapbooking books from the library, and I scoured the Internet looking for inspiration. That scrapbook is still sitting in a tote with all my supplies under my son’s bed. It has exactly three pages completed. From a trip I took almost a decade ago…
Needless to say, I am a terrible scrapbooker. I love the idea of scrapbooks. I enjoy looking through other people’s scrapbooks. I long to create my own stunning scrapbooks. But I just do not have the gift of scrapbooking.
Part of my problem is that I’m too much of a perfectionist, but my design skills don’t match my expectations. So there I sit, staring at a blank page, afraid to even start for fear of making an ugly page.
The other problem is a vision problem. I have troubles seeing things in my head before I do them. It’s difficult for me to just start cutting and gluing and sticking without a clear vision in my head of the end product.
So when I had my first son, Aidan, I didn’t even kid around with the idea of a traditional baby book. I’m honest enough with myself to know what’s realistic, and a baby scrapbook was just not one of those things. But I did very much want a keepsake from his birth and first year that I could treasure.
I found the perfect solution — Shutterfly Photobooks. These digital scrapbooks are perfect for someone like me who desires the sentimentality of a scrapbook without all the hassle. And it has been the perfect way to document both my boys’ first years, even for a non-scrapbooker like me.
Why Shutterfly Photobooks are Awesome
Here are a few reasons I love Shutterfly Photobooks:
- No need for all the supplies!
- Faster to put together
- Most of the work is done for you
- Doesn’t make a mess
- Easier to experiment – A digital scrapbook makes it so much easier to experiment with my designs. I can move things around freely, delete things easily, undo things I don’t like, and try out different designs until I find the one I want. This is perfect for someone like me – a perfectionist who struggles with design.
My Super Easy Baby Book Method
Like I said, I didn’t keep an official baby book for either of my boys. I knew that my good intentions would quickly go to the wayside and I would end up with half-completed books.
Instead, I kept a running Word document on my computer of all their notes and milestones. Whenever I had a minute, I would add notes about what they were doing, how their doctor appointments went, when they tackled each little milestone, etc. The notes were quick and very informal. I figured I could always go back and turn them into complete sentences or paragraphs later.
And that’s exactly what I did when I made my Shutterfly Photobooks at the end of their first years. I peppered those little notes and memories among the pictures in the books. The result was a very special record of memories that I will treasure forever.
Tips for Making Your Best Photobook
If you’ve never made a photobook before, Shutterfly does a pretty good job of walking you through it step-by-step. So I won’t take the time to cover every step. But I did want to point out a few tips that might not be obvious that will make your photobook experience even better.
Consider using Shutterfly’s Make My Book service.
A service that will do all the designing for me?? That sounds like a dream come true for a busy mom who isn’t that great at design but wants a book that looks like she is. 😉
I didn’t want to use this for the boys’ baby books, since I wanted full autonomy with the order, milestones, notes, etc. But I am definitely considering this option for our “yearbooks” that I want to start doing or for family vacations.
The Make My Book service is only $9.99, and you are only charged if you end up ordering the finished book. So there’s really no harm in trying it to see if you like it!
You can purchase Storytelling elements a la carte.
The Storytelling Styles are premium designs that you can add to your book for more design options. An entire style collection costs $5.99.
When I was making Aidan’s baby book, I ignored the Storytelling Styles and opted for the free styles instead. When I made Andrew’s book, I decided to spend the extra $6 and get one of the Storytelling Styles. I didn’t have a lot of time to spend designing the book, and I thought the Storytelling Style would make it easier and look better.
It really didn’t, and I regretted choosing one of the premium styles, as I didn’t use most of the design elements. It is possible to change your style once you’ve started, but it was going to disrupt a lot of the work I had already done with my layouts, formatting, etc. I was too far invested in the project to change it. For the future, I decided it wasn’t worth the extra money.
However, as I was preparing for this post, I learned that you can purchase Storytelling elements a la carte! I was so excited to learn this! You don’t have to buy an entire style collection to get a few elements – you can buy the elements you want individually:
Idea Pages – $0.99
Backgrounds – $0.25
Embellishments (stickers and pattern bands) – $0.25
Once your individual elements add up to $5.99, you get unlimited access to the entire collection. Pretty cool, huh?
Organize and (roughly) choose your photos before uploading
Trust me on this one – I speak from experience!! Not only is it MUCH easier to organize and choose your pictures from your computer files rather than in Shutterfly, it will drastically reduce your uploading time. I have really slow Internet at my house right now, and when I first tried to upload a bunch of pictures, it took hours to upload.
This is my process for uploading pictures for use in a Shutterfly project:
- Go through my pictures on my computer
- Select the ones I think I might want (doesn’t have to be my final pick, just a rough idea)
- Make a folder for my Shutterfly project
- Copy the pictures I want into the folder
- Upload the folder to Shutterfly
Use the Storyboard tab
In this tab, you can add the photos you want on that page, and it will automatically choose a layout for you based on the number of pictures.
Use Advanced Editing
Click this button when you want to fine tune your layout. This is where you can add, move, or resize photo or text areas. It took me a while to figure this out the first time I made a book, and it was driving me crazy that I couldn’t make the boxes exactly how I wanted them! I rejoiced when I finally found the Advanced Editing button.
Don’t be confined by your style’s elements
You can get more layouts, backgrounds, embellishments, and idea pages and add them to your project.
More Ideas for Shutterfly Photobooks
- Family Yearbooks (i.e. a scrapbook of your family’s year. I plan to make one of these at the end of this year. There are several books in Shutterfly with season templates that will be perfect for this!)
- Family Vacations
- Birthday Parties
- Special Events
I have completely given up on the idea of ever actually completing a scrapbook. I think my ten-year-old three-page scrapbook sitting under my son’s bed is a pretty good testament to that.
But thanks to Shutterfly Photobooks, I don’t have to give up on the idea of creating priceless memory keepsakes. Photobooks are easier, quicker, and a lot less work than a traditional scrapbook, and they’re perfect for non-designer perfectionists like me!
If you’re a non-scrapbooker, but you would love to have something to show for your baby’s first year (or any special time in your life), give Shutterfly Photobooks a try. Once you try them, I know you’ll be forever hooked.
Click here to get started on your first (or next) photobook!
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